07/15/2012, Girne Cyprus
After the EMYR finished we decided to leave Ta-b in Herzilya's marina (really cheap) and go walk about as we wanted to spend some time in Jordan and Jerusalem/Bethlehem.
There are only three crossings into Jordan, we bused south to Eiat on the Red sea as it is easiest to cross from Israel. It was weird crossing on foot through no man's land, but it was certainly quiet and quick as we only saw two other couples. We did not see much of the Red sea as we wanted to get to the Wadi Rum desert, the home (and movie) of Lawrence of Arabia, which we had heard so much about. It was stunning, deep red with huge mountains/rocks everywhere amongst the desert. We had a jeep to ourselves with two guides and spent a magical evening in a Bedouin camp with one other Italian family. The Bedouins were charming and we had lovely evening under the stars listening to their music, drinking the sweet sage tea everyone consumes in great quantities, and learning about their lives.
From Wadi Rum we bused up to Petra and stayed at a gem of a hotel (thank you trip advisor). It had a ton of character with a lovely pool, and turkish bath which helped get rid of any leftover red desert sand. We spent the afternoon exploring ancient Petra, ranked the eighth wonder of the world and justifiably so - it is magnificent, my pictures do not do it justice. We also went in the evening when they have it lit by candle lights, a very special event. The next day we hiked up to the monastry (quite the hike, most people seemed to go by donkey) which gave us the most spectacular views and then covered what we had missed the day before.
We also met a great guy called Raami, whose mother from New Zealand, met and married a Bedouin from Petra in 1978. She lived with him in a two thousand-year-old cave carved into the red rock hillside, learned Arabic and gave birth to three children. We bought her book which tells her extraordinary story, sadly she was away visiting family in New Zealand so we were unable to meet her.
From Petra we went to Amman via the Kings Highway visiting Shobak Castle and the Mosaic Maps in Madaba, and then onto Jerash, one of the largest and well preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside Italy. We thought the Italians were crazy drivers, but in Jordan everyone is on their cell phone, they do not mark the two way roads and so everyone makes them three, kids hang out of windows, they use their horns the whole time, it is wild!!
We decided to cross back into Israel from Amman, it was a bit chaotic, but we were in Jersaleum by lunchtime and were able to check into our hotel early. We stayed at the four star YMCA International, just by Jaffa gate in the old town, a fabulous building with terrific food which we would highly recommend. We ended up staying there four nights, as three was not enough! I think we covered most of the main sights, there were some great tours, and we ended up spending a whole day in the Holocaust Museum, an emotional, but fascinating experience. We also went to Bethlehem in Palestine so are totally holied out - 180 different religious churches in a very small area. For the same cost as a tour we hired a driver and guide and went in the back entrance, not even having to show our passports at the check point. Apparently it can take up to an hour with a regular tour to get across - weird.
Back on the boat we reflected on our time spent in Israel and Jordan. Taking politics and religion aside. Firstly we did not realise how small Israel is, most of it being on the coast. We were also interested to learn that they all go into the military after they leave school - men for 3 years and women for 2 years. Certainly not a bad thing as we saw no lazy slobs around, just proud healthy fit youngsters, although it must be hard to be on standby the whole time as after they finish they get put into the reserves. We found Israel to be a rightfully proud, tolerant and resourceful country with very friendly people. The changes they have made since 1948 are incrediable, they have reclaimed a huge amount of the desert with their recyling of water from the north and are now able to support the country totally with local produce. They have restored most of the old buildings and their infrastructure and new buildings are well thought out. We think it is a lovely country.
Jordan was also delightful, however you could tell that only 100 years ago they all lived as Bedouins or farmers in their tents and caves. It was scruffier, dirtier and the cities just seemed thrown together. Most of the women (and men) were fully covered (they must cook in the heat) and donkeys, horses and camels were still a regular form of travel. They all seem to smoke and most are small and lean.
We found their langage easy to learn and especially enjoyed "moomooshkin" (no problem) and "Yallah" (lets go). Jordan is a stunning country and the people are so wonderful, we are glad we did not miss it.
So where are we now? Well a week ago we left Israel and sailed a couple of hundred miles back to Monastry Bay in Northern Cyprus to chill out. The EMYR should come with a health warning as our immune system is shot, both of us got what Russell affectionately calls the Jordan Jig while we were away travelling, although Russ much worse than me. What a way to Detox (difficult to get booze in Jordan) and get fit (walked/climbed up to 6 hours a day) and loose some of the weight we had put on. In Monastry we were at anchor for about four days swimming/snorkeling/exploring/reading/cleaning and catching up with chores. We have just arrived in Girne via an anchorage off Karpas Gate and are anchored off the marina. We plan to tie up for a few days, when we go off to explore the rest of the island, and are off to a BBQ at our Turkish friends tomorrow night. Sadly, even with our special discount, the cost is 60 euro a day reduced from 89 and that does not include electricity or water, so we will not be staying long!! Next stop Turkey.
07/13/2012, Girne Cyprus
So now onto the second half of the EMYR rally; which proved to be very hard work for the organisers so we really appreciated the way they looked after us. We were originaly going to go to Lebanon from Karpas Gate in Northern Cyprus, but our itinerary had to be changed as Lebanon wanted us to enter from Turkey instead (only an extra 140 nm or so ...). So off we went to Mersin, the furtherst East we got in Turkey. Yet again we were treated like VIPs and they put on the most spectacular evening for us including some local dancers who were fantastic.
Then, the day before we were due to sail to Jounieh in Lebanon, we were advised that the authorities could no longer welcome us because of the unrest in Syria. It was a real blow, especially as the rally for the second year in a row was missing out Syria and we had also travelled all the way back to Turkey. Two wonderful countries we sadly were not going to see. So it was with heavy hearts that we instead returned to Karpas Gate who kindly put us up again. The plan now was to leave Famagusta, on the south coast of Northern Cyprus, to go to Israel. A few of us decided to go to Monastry Bay for a few days instead of staying at Karpas Gate Marina. We ended up being six boats at anchor, a beautiful spot, and enjoyed a couple of great pot luck evenings together.
The sail from Famagosta to Haifa was 160 km and not having a lot of wind we motor sailed most of the way. It was strange to see so many other boats around us at night, and we hung back to keep out of everyone's way! It was interesting as we had to follow certain waypoints to keep the Israeli Navy happy, they asked us to check in once we were about 20 miles out and came alongside each boat for all our documents before we entered the harbour. The Carmel Yacht Club hosted our visit and somehow managed to fit all of us into their marina even though they only had five berths available!!
We were hosted to a cocktail party and walk along the reclaimed Kishon River by the club, on our first evening which was fascinating - it showed how we can, turn back the clocks, environmentally. The next day we were taken to Nazareth and Galilee, among other sites. The church in Nazareth was like a gallery with all different types of murals from various countries, Canada's was very original and done in wood, I could have spent a day there. Galilee was interesting with people being baptised in the River Jordan; which has water rats and huge mean looking catfish, I wouldn't have gone near the water, however holy the place is!!
That evening we were treated to a magical party at the Kishon River Park with a backdrop of Haifa's twinkling lights. We are the only Canadian boat on the rally this year out of 33 boats, and I was proud for the first time to hold the flag and make a speech - even though I was a tad nervous in front of all the local dignatories.
The next day we went to Akko, an ancient harbour city which had a stunning synagogue just outside of the old city with the most amazing mosaics recounting the history of the Jewish People. We loved Akko with its ancient crusader city being unearthed under the newer city, with its tunnels, vaulted ceilings and outside its cobbled streets and bazaars. That evening we were hosted by yacht club members to an evening in their homes, we had a delightful evening with Tamara and Giora Reder and their family. Then the following day we were shown around Haifa before our evening departure south for Ashkelon.
From Ashkelon we took a trip through the Judean Desert and Mountains to The Dead Sea; which being 400 meters below sea level is the lowest point on earth. It was quite the experience to float unsinkably on the highly saline water. We also visited Masada, Herod's mountaintop palace - quite the climb up, but luckily we got the cable car down. The morning before we were due to leave for Egypt I awoke to the distant sound of rumberling, but thought nothing of it until later. We had invited some Australians who were hitching a ride on another boat to join us for the leg down to Port Said, however by the afternoon our agenda was changing again as Egypt could no longer safely welcome us into Port Said, due to the unrest from the elections there, and it was decided that we would leave the following day for Herzilya instead. Sarah and Doug ended up staying on board with us until the end of the rally about a week later in Herzilya.
The locals in Ashkelon are used to living so close to Gaza (20 k away) and have recently got anti missles that are 95% accurate so we were told not to worry about the rumbling that I occasionally kept hearing. However, that evening we went out for dinner with some of our friends, and just as dinner was being served the sirens went off. I have never seen people jump up and move so quickly, it took us a second or two to cotton on, as about 50 people rushed to the back of the restaurant for the shelter that could probably only hold 10. Thankfully by the time we got there the sirens stopped and people were calmly going back to their tables. A couple of times we saw lights in the sky and once during the night the siren went again (not sure what we were supposed to do on our boat) Russ happily snored beside me and luckily it only went for about a minute. However, we were very happy to leave for Herzilya early the next morning - there's exciting, but that was a tad too much.
Herzilaya Marina was lovely, although on entering we got some garbage/rubbish around our starboard prop that Russ had to dive to sort out, and I had three spotters!! Sadly there is a lot of debris in the sea in the Eastern Med and we were the fourth boat in the rally to have had a problem. We were right beside a terrific beach where we did yoga and played rugby in the mornings with a huge mall with outside bars and restaurants to enjoy. Our last few days with the rally were a lot of fun, we had partied every night since the beginning and did not stop until the end when the marina put on our last formal dinner and dance - I think we got to bed at 4 am not wanting the party to end. We became a very close community and made some great friends. What a wonderful experience we had, we would recommend the EMYR to all our fellow cruisers, hopefully the countries we missed will open up soon and the number of participants will grow again, although sadly we do not think we will be visiting them in Ta-b as next year we plan to head west.
We started our adventure with the EMYR (Eastern Mediterrean Yacht Rally) at Marti Marina in Keci Buku. On leaving Marmaris we popped over to Rhodes in Greece to pick up a parcel of boat parts that we had sent from England (too difficult to send to Turkey) and although in transit we stayed the night as our new friend Nico was charging us next to nothing for his services and a berth and assured us that we would be okay to stay in Greece without checking in. We had a wonderful time exploring the old town and buying up goodies that we can't get in Turkey, including meat from the animal with the funny nose. Then a stop in Datca to visit the market, such a lovely village and a perfect place to regroup, before we joined the rally.
Keci Buku is a gem, with a backdrop of pine forests and a dolmus (bus) that goes regularily to Marmaris. We soon started meeting other boats and were treated to a fantastic party by the marina, with two live bands to help us dance the night away on the deck by the poolside. There are some delux rooms at the marina with their own private juccuzzis which we were temped to try out after midnight, but we held back (for once).
Our next stop was D Marine in Gocek, a 75 nm trip so a start of 0530 hrs and sadly we had to motor sail the whole way. Gocek is a delightful village and we were hosted a cocktail party by the marina so helping us to meet more of our rally friends. We have more than ten different nationalities; with a total group of thirty three yachts, and at each stop we are picking up more and more boats, with a few guest boats from previous years joining us for a leg or two. Sadly it is the smallest group for many years and the rumour is that we might be on the last one. Because of visas, political climate, entry and exit formalities it is becoming more and more difficult and the organisers have already had to work very hard this year. We have had to change our itinerary as boats can no longer go to Lebanon from North Cyprus. So we are having to return from North Cyprus to Turkey so we can sail to Lebanon; a trip of 180 nm which will be hard for many boats. Still the sailing community are a flexible group and everyone is looking after one another.
Next stop was Kas, definitely a place we will revisit after the rally with a big beautiful marina with a stunning swimming pool, which a few of us ended up in (fully dressed) at the end of the evening party they put on for us. While we were there we took a day trip to Xanthos the ruined capital of Lycia and now a World Cultural Heritage. We also visited Patara with its 12 km of white sandy beach and ruins, Saklikent gorge and picturesque Kalkan town. We also went to the small historic and pretty Greek island of Castellorizo just off Kas on a friends boat for mothers day lunch, a lot of fun with a group of about 20 including the marina manager and his family from Kas.
With no wind we motor sailed to Finike via Kekova Roads and its sunken city where we anchored for lunch. After lunch we noticed a burning smell and having turned off the engines we located a problem with our starboard motor. Interesting coming into a marina with only one engine so it was lucky the mariners were there to help. We had to go into Marmaris to pick up our residents permits the next day, but with the help of another boatie we organised for our starter motor to be fixed and our spare one to be checked and even got back in time for the cocktail party.
We had a fantastic sail the following day to Kemer, Ta-b was goose winged most of the way and averaged 7.3 kn with a top speed of 12 plus. Kemer is very much a tourist town with lots of Russians and noisy hotels, a popular marina to winter over in and they were wonderful to us. At the formal dinner we waved our international flags, giving speeches and presents to our hosts from the local government. Next stop Alanya with another great sail, Ta-b is loving playing alongside the other boats in the rally, last count we are six Catamarans in the fleet. A large group from the rally went to Capaddocia for three days, but having been there we decided instead to get to know Alanya one of the wealthiest and largest cities in Turkey known as the "Turkish Riveria". There are a lot of liveaboards in Alanya who we got to know, some of whom are now on the rally.
Yet again the night before we left we were hosted a formal dinner by the marina pool, a beautiful setting.
Another great sail to Bozyazi where we spent three hours as "joker boat" (name of a tender here) helping all the rally boats dock in the heavy wind. We had a fantastic evening at anchor (no room for Cats at dock) on KintuKani a French 50' Lagoon, with a few other boats - certainly a party boat and boy can the French cook!! Bozyazi is a fishing harbour and the next day we were taken to the archaeological site of Anamurium city and the Castle of Anamur, both stunning sites (see pictures). That evening the fisherman and harbour master treated us to a terrific fish dinner on the dockside with local entertainment - a highlight of our trip so far.
Tasucu was our next stop and the last half of the day the wind got up to 35 knots and we just flew along with a max speed from Ta-b of 14 knots with the help of some surf. The fleet ended up anchoring in the commercial port; which caused some entertainment, as it was too windy to move the boats in the harbour to accommodate us. An early departure the next day to let the freighters in and dock up. Yet again the locals put on a great dinner and Neville of "Taralee" showed us what a great DJ he is as once again we danced the night away.
On our arrival in Girne, Cyprus we were treated to a Presidential Cocktail party at the Fortress, what a spectacular setting, we are seriously being treated like royality and were interviewed and photographed for all the local papers. We took a trip to Bellapais Abbey, St. Hilarion Kalesi (from where Disney got the idea of the castle in Snow White) and Nicosia the walled city which is shared by the Greeks in the South of Cyprus (lots of English food, including Ginger Nuts - yippee). We also got to play golf at the Korineum Golf and Country Club, what a treat, first time we have ever used a buggy too. Last night we had a pirate dinner and dance at the Dome Hotel which was a riot, the people on the EMYR really know how to party that is for sure. The last time I was in Girne, I knew it as Kyrenia (the British name), was in 1976 and although it has changed the harbour and castle are still unspoilt and lovely, it has become a very popular spot for British expats.
As I write this we are currently sailing, motoring, sailing with spinniker, motoring to Karpass Gate which is on the leg of Cyprus. We have two additional crew on board for the day from Girne, they are delightful and have already become friends - the Turkish people are so special.
I have rambled on a tad, so will end. Our pictures under EMYR in the gallery show our trip better than my words ever can. Enjoy and please keep in touch. Hugs
05/02/2012, Marmaris, Turkey
Yippee - last night we cut the lines (not literally) from Yat marina where Ta-b has been for the winter. We are once again at anchor, a fantastic feeling, and we celebrated over dinner with our friends from Skaddale Again who left this morning to go to Greece. A lot of cruisers are having to leave Turkey because of the new Visa rules (90 days only allowed out of 180) but we are biting the bullet and becoming residents for a year. As I write we have the air conditioning guru finishing up work and testing the system which has not been working since we bought Ta-b. It will be a luxury that I think will come in useful this year as we plan to cruise further south.
Russell had a very productive three weeks on the hard (living and working on Ta-b while she is on land) while I came back via Vancouver and England where my mum has just moved into a long care Dementia home. I visited every day, learnt a lot, and had some very special times with her and all her new friends.
I arrived back in Marmaris on 3 April and ended up living on the hard with Russell for two weeks as boat work was running behind time due to the weather. Although as I write this at 5.30 pm (nearly happy hour) with it being sunny and a warm 27 degrees, March was a very wet month for Turkey, and April certainly had its moments with several nasty fronts that came through. The worst was just after we got splashed (put in the water) with winds recorded up to 65 knots, although where we were it was not too bad.
So busy, busy getting the boat ship shape and as they say Bristol fashion. We now have a new copper hull (bottom) and the hulls (sides) are all beautifully polished. Sheets (rope) are all clean, sails are back up, reefing lines and lazy jacks are in place. New lights on top of the mast, did I mention rigging renewed? All motors serviced (we have a few) although the outboard on the tender took a couple of days as it decided to play up on us. Russell has a "to do" list that is 3 to 4 pages long and never seems to get shorter as we keep finding things to add to it. One addition we now have is a comfy new helm seat that goes up and down, back and forth and around so that we can sit in it and be social at happy hour ☺
I got a bit busy with a friends sewing machine recently and while making some repairs made a new "Turkish" curtain (to match my cushions) for our door, three bean bag chairs (after two I had enough materil for a third) and a cover for our wakeboard. The boat was continually needing cleaning, provisioning and then there was the constant social life .... It is hard not to take girl time for a Turkish bath (can become addictive at 35-50 lire, about $20) which includes sauna, jucuzzi and then steam bath on marble with exfolicating, soap massage for half an hour. Tomorrow I will help the local community by having a manicure and pedicure for 30 lire before we leave.
While we were at the marina we celebrated my birthday, seems we celebrate it for longer each year, but hey any excuse to party! Ended up one night with a bunch of Aussies, Kiwis, English, Canadians, Maltese, Swedes, South African, Norwegian and Americans on board - luckily we all talk the same cruising language and had a very lively, loud evening assisted by way too much wine.
We plan to leave Marmaris on Wednesday, pop over to Rhodes to pick up a parcel, and then join the EMYR possibly in Datca. The Rally started in Istanbul, we will visit the south coast of Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt and Israel. There are 35 boats this year, so a small group which we feel is perfect. Apparently we are treated like royalty and I am looking forward to getting out some of my less scruffy clothes so I can dance the night away in style. Pyramids are on my bucket list as are a host of other places that we will visit. Excited .... Did I say excited ... you bet.
I have included a few more photos of New Zealand that I have just found, plus a few more that we hope you will enjoy. Take care and please keep the emails coming, it is always lovely to hear from you. Carpe Diem - Jane and Russell
03/09/2012, New Zealand
We are currently at anchor with our friends on their boat Idyll Island a Voyage 440 Catamran, up in the Bay of Islands, one of our favorite areas in New Zealand. Cathy and Derek are Canadians who we met in the Caribbean; when we headed east they went west so it has been a while since we were last together . We are with them for a weeks sailing and have had either no wind or way too much, 40 knots due again tonight with more rain. The first few days however the weather was kind to us, which was lucky as we were guests at a wedding in Russell the third day on board. We had a magical day that went on late into the evening and felt honored to be two of the thirty guests, having not seen the wedding couple for three years. Since then we have enjoyed sharing stories of life afloat, reliving memories of times together in the Caribbean and generally slowing down.
Before we left Australia we spent some time down in Coffs Harbour and also visited family and friends in Brisbane, NSW and Melbourne. It was wonderful to catch up with everyone and although the weather most of our trip was unseasonably wet, we had some fine days and a lot of fun.
When we were at Coffs Harbour we stayed at a family resort for a week and looked after our great niece and nephew for a while as our niece was moving. It was terrific to have prime time with them and they were both a delight. Our niece, and also sister-in-law and husband, also joined us the last few days so a great time was had by all. From there we went back to Coomera via our niece's new home which is just perfect for two young kids, especially having a pool which we all enjoyed. The national parks around Queensland and New South Wales are fantastic, I so love the tropical forests and we think the names like Ugly Gully, Rotten Gully, Undone Creek and Russell's favorite Bold Knob were great!! Fair dinkum as the Ozzies would say.
We spent a few days in Brisbane with old friends and had a wonderful time taking in the terrific galleries and checking out down town. The river is a very focal part of the town and we love the way that they have walk ways and bridges so that everyone can walk and bike to work. While we were in Australia there was a lot of flooding, but luckily Brisbane did not suffer like a few years ago.
Before we left we went to visit our cousin John and his wife Kate down in Melbourne. John was a supreme court judge in Hong Kong and has just retired. They bought a 10 acre property south of Melbourne, on Mornington Peninsular, which they have extensively remodelled - it is gorgeous. There are a lot wineries in the area and they have a vineyard, an olive grove, a huge 40 year old orchard, plus a larg shed, etc.. to enjoy. We loved the area and even got to play golf on one of the 14 courses on the pensinular. Melbourne has changed a lot since I lived there at age 20, but it still has held its charm and they have retained a lot of the old buildings and facades amongst the skyscrapers. It has more culture then any other Australian city and I can understand why John and Kate have made it their home.
Next we flew to Christchurch in New Zealand and headed down to Timaru where Russell grew up and where his mum still lives. We stayed with Grant and Mary (Russell was their best man about 35 years ago) and I have been adopted into Mary's girls group so it was great to have some "girl" time. With the guys they are a fun crowd and we managed to have some excellent evenings together before heading down to Wanaka and Queenstown on a road trip with Russell's Mum Gypsy. The south island of New Zealand is spectacular, especially the lakes which are the most amazing turquiouse. The area is vast and as there are so few people it is uncrowded and very peaceful. The pictures in our gallery do not do it justice, but we hope that they will give you an idea of how beautiful New Zealand is. We are also amazed at how much wild life there is here, sadly though one sees a lot of road kill. We had a fantastic trip, Gypsy was a delight and managed really well having broken her neck a year ago. Special memories which we will treasure.
Russell caught up with a group of his old friends in Christchurch before we left for Auckland, it was a fun night. Sadly Christchurch is much worse from the earthquakes they have had then we realised. The main town centre is blocked off about six blocks each way and they are having to pull down everything - it looks like a war zone. While we were there we heard that the cathedral is also having to come down, it was the heart of the city. No construction is going to start until the earthquakes stop, there were about 8 quakes over 4.0 mg in February, so everyone is in limbo. Brick buildings have suffered the worst, two of Timaru's finest churches have been condemmed and it is about 100 miles south of Christchurch!! It is so sad.
There is nothing like being in New Zealand though, even when it is wet and windy. The people are so friendly, easy going, and have the most amazing sense of humour. We love the antipodeans and feel fortunate to have so many friends and family here. Where else would you find a stream called "Hungry Creek"? Hope this finds you all happy and healthy. Enjoy the photos.
01/24/2012, Coomera, Australia
Oops looks like it has been a VERY long time since I last wrote our blog.
We are currently in Coomera, about an hour south of Brisbane, staying with Russell's older sister Yoga and her hubby Boop. Edwin called him Boop when he first met him at 18 months of age and the name stuck :) Sadly the weather has been very wet, so we are turning into prunes rather than the healthy tanned nomads we had been hoping for. Still life is beautiful here and we are enjoying spending time with family.
December seems a long time ago and came way too quickly. We managed to get Ta-b onto the hard and tucked up for the winter, at the same time enjoying Marmaris; while seeing old and making new friends. It has become a special place for us, in a way a home away from home and we look forward to our return. Sadly we have just found out that Turkey are going ahead with their new Visa rules; which they have managed to avoid up until now. It means that we will not be able to spend as much time in Turkey because from 2 February we will only be allowed into the country for 90 days out of 180 unless we become residents. Will make for some fine tuning on our sailing plans.
Leaving sunny Marmaris mid December we went to Istanbul for a couple of days and then onto England for a long weekend to catch up with family. Not long enough, but we wanted to get to Vancouver to see the kids for a bit before Xmas and I am going back for a couple of weeks on my way back to Marmaris.
We house sat again for our friend Ken, whilst in Vancouver, which worked very well for all of us. It was lovely to be back in our old neighbourhood, I kept bumping into people I knew and it was an easy walk to socialise of an evening with old friends. It was a busy time, out every night and catching up with the kids as much as we could, fitting in as many appointments as we could during the day and of course Otis the dog to walk twice a day. A week up at Whistler with the kids coming and going with friends after New Year was also a lot of fun.
Then it was off to Auckland. We caught the Wednesday direct flight which is 14 hours, but so much better than having stop offs all over the place. We had a long weekend layover with Russell's younger sister Jillie (left on Wednesday, but with time change do not arrive until Friday - not sure where Thursday went) and managed to do a lot in a very short period of time. New Zealand and Auckland are two of my favorite places and they did not dissappoint.
Finally we arrived in good old Oz - yet again another place dear to my heart. Having family here certainly makes a difference, but I love the vastness of the place and the tropical rainforests just minutes from where we are staying in Coomera up in the hinterlands and nearby national parks are magic. The wild life is amazing too and the birds on the feeder are so brightly coloured I could watch them for hours. However, I am not used to the rain - every time I have been here before it has been warm and sunny. I suppose they have to get the lushness from somewhere, but it is a tad early this year - not in our plans!!
We are due to go down to Coffs Harbour in New South Wales for next week, just hope the weather gets better as we are taking our great niece and nephew with us. So keep your fingers crossed for us and hopefully I will be able to add some more "sunny" pictures to the blog next month. In the meantime, take care everyone, have fun - love J&R